George Steinbrenner’s public statement of dissatisfaction yesterday is hardly without precedent. In late July 1975 while the Bombers were temporarily housed at Shea Stadium, New York was shut out in both ends of a doubleheader against the visiting Red Sox. From Tom Adelman’s “The Long Ball”, the following incident was culled from Sparky Lyle’s and Peter Golenbock’s “The Bronx Zoo” ”
Manager Bill Virdon calls a team meeting immeadiately after the second game. They congregate, without having showered, still wearing the stains of Shea’s grass upon their knees.
The manager stands before pitcher Rudy May’s locker, holding a small tape recorder.
“What’s that?” asks Sparky Lyle.
“Shut up!” says pitching coach Whitey Ford.
“Gather ’round and listen, Virdon simply says.
“Will this be inspirational music?” cracks Lyle.
“Shut up!” Whitey repeats.
Virdon presses play. From the tinny speaker erupts the unmistakable voice of their team owner, exiled in body but not in speech.
“I’ll be a son of a bitch, ” Steinbrenner exclaims, “if I’m going to sit up here and sign these paychecks and watch us get our asses kicked by a bunch of rummies.”
Someone starts to giggle. It spreads rapidly.
“Shut up!” cries Ford, to no avail.
Steinbrenner continues to sqawk away furiously, the players laughing now more openly.
Virdon isn’t amused. He looks morose, says nothing.
“Now, goddammit!” barks Steinbrenner’s disembodied voice. “Like they say down on the docks, you have to have balls.”
The players maintain this as a private joke. For days afterward, at all the wrong times, a Yankee grabs his crotch and solemnly tells another, “You have to have balls.”
As the Yankees are currently pounding Tampa, 15-2 this evening, perhaps it would be wrong to take issue with the Boss’ motivational tactics.